29 February 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Church News
, Ministry  Comments
One good thing about not following the usual Catholic suspects this Lent is that I’m missing out on stories like this.
Woman denied Communion at her mother’s funeral.
Presider walks out during the eulogy.
Later sends message he refuses to bury Mom.
In matters of faith and morals, the Church has the responsibility of teaching and of bringing the light of the Gospel message to the circumstances of our day. When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion, it is not the policy of the Archdiocese of Washington to publicly reprimand the person. Any issues regarding the suitability of an individual to receive communion should be addressed by the priest with that person in a private, pastoral setting.
The archdiocese is looking into the incident at a funeral Mass that was celebrated by Fr. Marcel Guarnizo and will handle this as a personnel issue.
Unsatisfactory to the Temple Police, of course, but there you have it.
29 February 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Ministry
, Politics Leave a Comment
Mr Santorum has been putting his foot in it, hasn’t he? Alienate the campus ministries, and the rest of the world’s not far behind.
Thom Rainer, president of the Southern Baptists’ LifeWay Christian Resources research firm:
There is no statistical difference in the dropout rate among those who attended college and those that did not attend college. Going to college doesn’t make you a religious dropout.
Huh. The Baptists are in revolt. Interesting, eh?
I’d get more traction (and a lot more pastors and principals and DRE’s fussing) if I were to muse that First Communion and Confirmation (and the accompanying graduation mentality) does a lot more to erode Catholic commitment.
I see the former Pennsylvania senator is also on the bandwagon for dumbing down the country and dropping wages for his fellow citizens:
He also has called President Obama a “snob” for wanting more Americans to attend college.
I’d agree that college isn’t for every student who attends. But really. When the alternative’s a dead-end mcjob? Even if the fine details of that degree aren’t very useful as useful information, a college degree does lift wages for those who have one. Maybe if Republican bidnessmen started paying high school grads $20/hour, he might have something about pasting that snobbery label elsewhere. For now, I think skinflint who doesn’t really research his public opinions.
29 February 2012
Another chapter in the Rowe/Braxton flap over making up the words. Maybe this is why we’re seeing more canon law experts and fewer liturgists in the episcopacy.
The whole thing strikes me as illustrative of how down-the-rabbit-hole church ministry has become. Take, for instance …
- A 72-year-old lifer who wants to keep working. Guys ten years younger in France would riot to get the pink slip and a cushy retirement.
- Of course, the words of the Mass rather overshadow some occasions of sexual shenanigans or financial mismanagement in terms of importance, at least according to the moral standards of most lay people.
- The guy who likes to play a little loose with the liturgical rules cites a three-month moratorium from canon law to thwart his bishop.
- A bishop who seems to be holding tight to the new Roman Missal waits several months before accepting a resignation. If the words really are of prime importance, you’d think he’d have had time to get another priest into the parish on six weeks’ notice.
The Catholic Church: an almost crazy avoidance of confrontation, and then when we do it, we really mess it up.
29 February 2012
Another milestone in our examination of the GDC: we’ve reached Part Four, “Those to be catechized.” This part is divided into five chapters covering numbered sections 167 through 214.
The GDC gives two illustrative quotes at the commencement of its documentation, one from the second suffering servant song of Isaiah:
“I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is 49:6).
And Luke’s account of Jesus’ entry into public ministry:
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them: ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’” (Lk 4:16-21).
The two numbered sections that follow introduce the theme of “The Kingdom is for all” (Cf. Redemptoris Missio 15; Evenagelii Nuntiandi 49-50; Catechesi Tradendae 35s; Redemptoris Missio 14; 23). After looking at catechists and content for the past several dozen sections, we get a close look at those to whom the Church speaks through its catechists. And not only catechists–these sections can inform every evangelically-minded believer who interacts with seekers, and is willing to engage them. It’s only the example of Jesus Christ, after all.
163. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus proclaimed that he had been sent to announce a joyful message (Cf. Lk 4:18) to the poor, making it plain and confirming by his life that the Kingdom of God is for all, beginning with those who are most disadvantaged. Indeed he made himself a catechist of the Kingdom of God for all categories of persons, great and small, rich and poor, healthy and sick, near and far, Jews and pagans, men and women, righteous and sinners, rulers and subjects, individuals and groups. He is available to all. He is interested in the needs of every person, body and soul. He heals and forgives, corrects and encourages, with words and deeds.
A proclamation to all. Available to all. Interested in all. This is the example of the Lord. This is his mission, his mandate to all his disciples:
Jesus concluded his earthly life by sending his disciples to do the same, to preach the Gospel to every creature on earth,(Cf. Mk 16:15) to “all nations” (Mt 28,19; Lk 24,47) “to the end of the earth”, (Acts 1,8) for all time, “to the close of the age” (Mt 28,20).
164. Throughout her two-thousand-year history, the Church, continually prompted by the Holy Spirit, has accomplished the task of paying her obligation of evangelizing “both to Greeks, and to Barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish” (Rm 1,14) with an immense variety of experience in proclamation or catechesis. In this way the characteristics of a pedagogy of the faith have been articulated in which the universal openness of catechesis and its visible incarnation in the world of those to whom it is addressed, are clearly linked.
The premise that we build on, and that the Church presumes, is that the Gospel message is proclaimed to everyone. We’ll spend the next several weeks in these GDC posts looking at the diverse audience, adults and other age groups, and the different and at-times challenging circumstances in life of those catechized. We’ll also take time to look at catechesis in the context of other religions, as well as the circumstances presented by modern culture: media, language, and more.
29 February 2012
Whats up in the nave? After multiple posts about altar,ambo, and chair, let’s find out. Participation, naturally, is the first consideration:
311. Places for the faithful should be arranged with appropriate care so that they are able to participate in the sacred celebrations, duly following them with their eyes and their attention. It is desirable that benches or seating usually should be provided for their use. However, the custom of reserving seats for private persons is to be reprobated.[Sacrosanctum Concilium 32] Moreover, benches or seating should be so arranged, especially in newly built churches, that the faithful can easily take up the bodily postures required for the different parts of the celebration and can have easy access for the reception of Holy Communion.
Care should be taken to ensure that the faithful be able not only to see the Priest, the Deacon, and the readers but also, with the aid of modern technical means, to hear them without difficulty.
I love when the reform2 crowd wrings its hands over participation, retranslating to fit the ideology when necessary. You don’t have to look very deep to get the notion of what the Church intends with the assembly’s participation at Mass. The senses help focus the attention, especially seeing and hearing. Bodily postures are important, as is the reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Otherwise, great freedom is allowed in how the assembly is hosted in the nave.
28 February 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Ministry 1 Comment
Twice, I’ve almost moved to Portland. It would be cool to visit this guy, but then quickly get out of the way so he could keep talking with those who need it.
We try to impress on our students the value of ministry where their peers are. We have a very comfortable building for our committed Catholics. But thousands of Iowa State students profess Catholicism on their school applications and never darken our doors. We’ve moved most of the student Bible studies and small groups to campus.
If we had a mall in the parish, we might consider going there, too, like Father Antoninus Wall. Cast those nets into the deep.
28 February 2012
One great expression of hope gets set up by a strong lament. Are you willing to engage the feeling of lament and grief so directly at the funeral? If so, here might be your reading:
My soul is deprived of peace,
I have forgotten what happiness is;
I tell myself my future is lost,
all that I hoped for from the Lord.
The thought of my homeless poverty is wormwood and gall;
Remembering it over and over
leaves my soul downcast within me.
But I will call this to mind,
as my reason to have hope:
The favors of the Lord are not exhausted,
his mercies are not spent;
They are renewed each morning,
so great is his faithfulness.
My portion is the Lord, says my soul;
therefore will I hope in him.
Good is the Lord to one who waits for him,
to the soul that seeks him;
It is good to hope in silence for the saving help of the Lord.
Lamentations is one of the more poetic offerings in the Bible. The catastrophe of conquest and exile has shaken Judah’s survivors after Babylon’s 587BC obliteration of Jerusalem. At the time of a loved one’s death, perhaps a surprising death that turns life for the mourners on its ear, perhaps this whole book will resonate.
There is a very honest and healthy grief in Lamentations. The author does not propose any easy answers. No “things will be okay.” No “this too shall pass.” Just raw grief and lament. The first sixteen verses of this chapter get pretty intense. When you read that God has led the “everyman” into darkness not light, has turned his hand against, besieged and encircled with poverty, etc., one gets the idea that a twisted version of Psalm 23 is the inspiration here. The image of God is not pretty, and the believer is not afraid to utter it.
Fortunately by verse 17, the mood turns, and one last summary leads into verse 21ff, in which God’s lasting and eternal quality of hesed (lovingkindness) is recalled. We are not given any external evidence for God’s love. It’s as natural as another day coming. We can choose to acknowledge it, (vv 21-26) or we can continue to wallow in pain (vv 1-20)–it doesn’t affect God’s quality either way.
I have a recollection of this passage being proclaimed at one funeral I attended. Maybe. It would take a great deal of courage to confront this Scripture so soon after a death. For myself, I’m not sure I could muster it. What about you?
28 February 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under On My Bookshelf
, Spanish  Comments
After about a month (January) of neglect I’m trying to resuscitate my Spanish studies. One of our parishioners who offered to help me with conversation last month started speaking to me in Spanish the other Sunday and I completely froze up. Muy malo.
The young miss now enjoys drilling me daily on my few hundred vocabulary words. We compare notes on her French and my Spanish. She’s brilliant with languages, so it’s quite possible she’ll pick up more Spanish from our exercises than I. As it is, she’s thinking of adding German instead of Spanish as her elective next year. And why not? The more languages, the better.
Anyway, my wife picked up this classic diccionario at a thrift shop for a quarter. “You need one for your office,” she said. I already have two at home–the big one is by the computer and the little one is usually at my bedside. At the public library yesterday, I picked up 501 Spanish verbs. More information than I probably want, and definitely more than I can handle–Honduras is less then three months away. But still, I’d like to be slightly more advanced in the language than Tourist Spanish for Dummies.
When I was a kid, I loved to read reference books like encyclopedias and dictionaries. Still do. This 1948 edition is no exception. I found the section on irregular verbs and decided I needed to start on these. I noted all these verbs with “go” endings in first person singular. So cute! Our spiritual life peer minister, adept in the language, said to me, “The yogo verbs.”
I put … pongo
I say … digo
I hear … oigo
I do … hago
I come .. vengo
I fall … caigo
I bring … traigo
I leave … saigo
and my favorite Spanish word this week: I have … tengo.
Another embarrassment (not embarazada!) is missing the double l’s in the middle of a few personal pronouns. I was corrected by another one of our peer ministers on this one. I love the Spanish words for rain and key, so how could I have missed the proper pronunciations for “she” and “they”?
On another front, my comprehension is still stuck on day one. I tried watching some Spanish language television, and they’re all talking so fast. Nice looking women, to be sure, but I’m in it for the language, amigos. I do a bit better with listening to Spanish music in restaurants and on YouTube. On the latter, I let the Selena Channel play the other day. “Amor prohibido.” I think I’ve got that one down. Linguistically speaking, of course.
28 February 2012
Wrapping up this section on social communication, we get a direct quote from Pope John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical, advising not just to use new media, but through it, to be able to frame the Christian message in an effective and appealing way:
161. Good use of the media requires of catechists a serious commitment to knowledge, competence, training and up to date use of them. But, above all, because of the strong influence of the mass media and culture, it must be remembered that “it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church’s authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the “new culture” created by modern communications… with new languages, new techniques and a new psychology”.(Redemptionis Missio 37) Only by this, with the grace of God, can the Gospel message have the capacity to penetrate the consciousness of all and obtain a personal acceptance as well as a complete personal commitment.(Cf. Evengelii Nuntiandi 45)
The challenge is not only to use the tools of the new media, but also the settings available. I happen to think the television screen is of limited use. But the internet itself, if handled well, can be almost as good as a live encounter between catechist and believer, and among believers and seekers.
162. Those who work in the mass media, as well as those who make use of them should be able to receive the grace of the Gospel. This should cause catechists to consider particular groups of people: media professionals to whom the Gospel can be pointed out as a great horizon of truth, of responsibility and of inspiration; families—who are so much exposed to the influence of the media—for their defence, but more so in view of a growing critical and educational capacity; (Cf. Familaris Consortio 76) the younger generations, who are the users and creative subjects of mass media communications. All are reminded that “the use of these instruments by professionals in communication and their reception by the public demand both a work of education in a critical sense, animated by a passion for the truth, and a work of defence of liberty, respect for the dignity of individuals, and the elevation of the authentic culture of peoples”.(Christifedeles Laici 44)
The problem and challenge of mass media is of course indoctrination. In democracies, through the economic powers attempting to maximize profit and influence. And in states where power is concentrated at the top, in the imposition of political views of the leadership. These are challenges for the Church, not only to defend against ideas contrary to the Gospel, but to encourage that “critical” capacity. That criticism has certainly been evident across the board as a response to the widespread mismanagement of clergy sex offenders. The critical thinking a believer needs to treat the messages of government and corporations would be the same needed to discern the fruitfulness of the episcopal ministry, particular and in the broader sense (including the curia). It’s a difficult time of discernment, and the institutions of Catholicism are as much on display for their offenses as any other segment of human society.
28 February 2012
The Priest Celebrant gets a chair suitable to the function of the priest’s presidency over the liturgical assembly:
310. The chair of the Priest Celebrant must signify his function of presiding over the gathering and of directing the prayer. Thus the more suitable place for the chair is facing the people at the head of the sanctuary, unless the design of the building or other features prevent this: as, for example, if on account of too great a distance, communication between the Priest and the congregation would be difficult, or if the tabernacle were to be positioned in the center behind the altar. In any case, any appearance of a throne is to be avoided.[Inter Oecumenici 92] It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use, the chair be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[Book of Blessings 880-899]
No throne-like appearance. Hmm, a challenge in some places, perhaps in a few cathedrals.
Likewise, seats should be arranged in the sanctuary for concelebrating Priests as well as for Priests who are present at the celebration in choir dress but without concelebrating.
The seat for the Deacon should be placed near that of the celebrant. For the other ministers seats should be arranged so that they are clearly distinguishable from seats for the clergy and so that the ministers are easily able to carry out the function entrusted to them.[Inter Oecumenici 92]
Most liturgists prefer other ministers to be less distinct from the assembly. One challenge I’ve seen in many places are when chairs for altar servers would be used where concelebrating clergy would sit.
27 February 2012
Posted by catholicsensibility under Astronomy
, coins Leave a Comment
This might be the only chance I’ll ever get to post one piece in the two categories of astronomy and coins. Universe Today picked up the story of a 1909 Lincoln Cent being mounted on a calibration target on the Curiosity rover now heading to Mars.
Ken Edgett from the Curiosity team:
The penny is on the MAHLI calibration target as a tip of the hat to geologists’ informal practice of placing a coin or other object of known scale in their photographs. A more formal practice is to use an object with scale marked in millimeters, centimeters or meters.
It’s important for earthbound scientists to be able to compare colors and sizes of objects in images from Martian probes. Hence the color swatches and the markings reminiscent of an eye chart.
27 February 2012
We wrap up the final three sections of the GDC’s Part Three, The Pedagogy of Faith, with two posts on social communications. The title is heavily footnoted, and even though most of these documents predated the internet age, much of what they say can and should be applied to the so-called “new media.”
The references are many: Cf. General Catechetical Directory 122-123; Evangelii Nuntiandi 45; Catechesi Tradendae 46; Familaris Consortio 76; Christifedeles Laici 44; Redemptoris Missio 37; Aetatis Novae; Ecclesia in Africa 71.
160. “The first areopagus of the modern age is the world of communication, which is unifying humanity… The means of social communication have become so important as to be for many the chief means of information and education, of guidance and inspiration in their behaviour as individuals, families and within society at large”.(Redemptoris Missio 37) For this reason, in addition to the numerous traditional means in use, the media has become essential for evangelization and catechesis.(Cf. Aetatis Novae 11) In fact, “the Church would feel herself guilty before God if she did not avail of those powerful instruments which human skill is constantly developing and perfecting… In them she finds in a new and more effective forum a platform or pulpit from which she can address the multitudes”.(Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 45)
Remember that Evangelii Nuntiandi is Paul VI’s, and it dates to 1975. The new tools of communication are indeed powerful, and we know they are used for ill by many. The Church, rather than reject them in skepticism, really must maximize their use, just as we focus on the communication directly from one voice to another’s ear.
In this respect, the following can be considered: television, radio, press, discs, tape recordings, video and audio cassettes, Compact Discs, as well as the entire range of audio-visual aids.(Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 46)All of these media offer a particular service and everybody will have (her or) his own specific use for them. It is therefore necessary to appreciate their importance and to respect their demands.(Cf. General Catechetical Directory 122) In every well planned catechesis, such aids cannot be absent. Reciprocal assistance between the Churches, so as to defray the rather high costs of acquiring and running such aids, is a true service to the Gospel.
Cost is not often as much a concern as it might have been two generations ago, or even one. Our poverty is in the vision of applying new forms to the service of a more effective witness of faith.
27 February 2012
One section on the ambo, but there’s a good bit here to which to attend:
309. The dignity of the Word of God requires that in the church there be a suitable place from which it may be proclaimed and toward which the attention of the faithful naturally turns during the Liturgy of the Word.[Inter Oecumenici 92]
It is appropriate that generally this place be a stationary ambo and not simply a movable lectern. The ambo must be located in keeping with the design of each church in such a way that the ordained ministers and readers may be clearly seen and heard by the faithful.
My parish’s ambo is a movable piece, though it takes two people to budge it awkwardly. The stand on which it sits is more easily moved across the floor, a concession to the possibilities of focusing the proclamation of the Word to either side of our antiphonally-seated assembly, as the situation might dictate.
From the ambo only the readings, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; likewise it may be used for giving the Homily and for announcing the intentions of the Universal Prayer. The dignity of the ambo requires that only a minister of the word should stand at it.
Homily and general intercessions optional. Anybody have the intercessions announced from a place other than the ambo. I tend to lean toward that option myself.
It is appropriate that before being put into liturgical use a new ambo be blessed according to the rite described in the Roman Ritual.[Book of Blessings 900-918]
27 February 2012
I see over nine-thousand comments at the HuffPo on the piece where Richard Dawkins has a sliver of doubt on the non-existence of God. (Sure glad we only get a sliver of HuffPo’s traffic here.)
Naturally, Dr Dawkins suggested that “religionists” should also share his rational, six-point-nine approach to this. In the world of science, there is little of ironclad certainty. There can always be one misinterpretation, one slipped decimal point, one vaguely defined aspect –any of which can wake a researcher in the middle of the night and throw the whole works into a mess of doubt.
It’s my contention that many religious believers follow this same pattern. On the basis of reason, they have convinced themselves God exists and that their way of living the faith is the Way To Go.
If a Christian announced she or he had finally found rational proof of God, I wouldn’t be interested. I would hope others wouldn’t be either. Do you suppose why?
The full debate video is up at the link above. I confess little to no interest in watching it. A debate is never likely to solve an issue of faith. More illustrative for any seeker is walking with (companion) a person of faith. Walk with a person who lacks faith, and it will largely look the same as any other human pedestrian: wake up, shower, eat, go to work, interact with other people, go home, play with the dog or the child, go to bed.
For a person of faith, something beyond measurement is at work. It might be just a glimmer. It might shine a little more brightly. Though if you’re looking for electromagnetic radiation, you’re not likely to detect a darn thing.
One of the best scenes in the movie Contact involves a challenge from the scientist, as played by Jodie Foster, to a person of faith, played by Matthew McConaughey. Prove the existence of God, she suggests. The dialogue turns back on the scientist (and you have to see the scene to get the full interpretation, well done by Ms Foster):
- Palmer Joss: Did you love your father?
- Ellie Arroway: What?
- Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him?
- Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much.
- Palmer Joss: Prove it.
Proof and reason are not needed. Human beings communicate with one another and with God on levels different from the realm of reason of Western Society. For believers, we’re better off living as though everything depends on faith, and not that everything depends on what we know. But I think we should be cautious about allowing too much reason into our practice of the faith.
26 February 2012
Noting a reference to the General Catechetical Directory, section 76, let’s discuss group dynamics in catechesis:
159. Groups play an important function in the development processes of people. The same is true of catechesis, both for children where it fosters a rounded sociability, and for young people where groups are practically a vital necessity for personality formation. The same is true of adults where they promote a sense of dialogue and sharing as well as a sense of Christian co-responsibility. The catechist who participates in such groups and who evaluates and notes their dynamics recognizes and plays the primary specific role of participating in the name of the Church as an active witness to the Gospel, capable of sharing with others the fruits of his mature faith as well as stimulating intelligently the common search for faith. Apart from its didactic aspect, the Christian group is called to be an experience of community and a form of participation in ecclesial life. It finds its goal and fullest manifestation in the more extended Eucharistic community. Jesus says: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt 18:20).
This seems fairly straight-forward. Much of the Christian experience is a group phenomenon. It has been so from the time of Jesus and the apostles.
For young people, the reference point is their socialization and personality formation. Is this more a concern for human psychology? Perhaps not entirely. It might be that when faith is woven into these formative experiences, it takes deeper root than just the imparting of religious information.
And naturally, participation in the witness of the Gospel is vital. How can we escape the principle? And really, why would we want to?
Next Page »